"Hey there! How would you like to have a huge teenager you've never met come live with you for 6 months? He'll double your grocery bill. And he likes to hit guys and wield a big stick."
Those may not be the words you're saying to potential billet families. But it just might be what they're hearing. No wonder the idea of billeting makes them nervous.
Problem 1: Most People Don't Know What Billeting Is
Kids who leave home to play hockey is a foreign concept to a lot of people. We've found this explanation helps things click: "Billeting is like hosting an exchange student, but with an athlete." Ah, now they get it. But what does that have to do with them?
Problem 2: People Don't Know What's In It For Them
We don't have to tell you that hosts aren't going to get rich billeting. But the monthly stipend is sometimes the only perk teams talk about. Yes, there's reimbursement for basic expenses. But talking up the players, the role models for kids, the chance to make lifelong friendships, the games, the team, the community, the fun of showing off your city-that's what gets people excited!
Problem 3: People Don't Know Anything About the Kid
Who's the player, and what's he like? (Hint: they're not asking about his on-ice skills.) If you can't answer these basic questions, you can't blame people for backing out.
We've heard these problems over and over. You probably have, too. Here's the good news -- you can do something about it.
Before billeting season begins, put your thoughts together about these questions and concerns. Consider drafting a letter to distribute with new billets that answers these questions. You can also point people to articles on this website for general information about billeting.
If you don't have the time or inclination to put together this information yourself, you can purchase tools from Billet Better to help. Our various document downloads include ready-made lists, Q&As, and fill-in-the-blank forms that make it easy to educate billet hosts and get new relationships going. Some examples include:
- Common Questions About Billeting
- Billeting Expectations (what's expected of billet hosts-and what the team gives them in return)
- Billet Contract (an agreement between host and player that lays out details like who pays for what, lets the host set up house rules, etc. Click here to see a sample page from this contract.)
- Player Bio (get to know the player, his personality, and likes/dislikes before he even arrives)
- Contact Information for the player's family and the team
What else have you found helpful to tell new and prospective billet families? Add your comment below!
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